And baby makes two

We canvassed readers and staffers for tips on juggling two youngsters at home. Read on for their pearls of wisdom

Bringing home baby

“When baby comes home from the hospital, instead of celebrating the baby (because the baby doesn’t care), have a big sister or big brother party.
This is the best thing we did: We wore hats, made my daughter’s favourite meal, decorated with a few balloons and ate cake. We called it her, “Big Sister Party.” She loved it and felt acknowledged and special instead of jealous.”

Wendy
Hamilton, ON

Regular routines

“We didn’t make any drastic changes. Any changes that needed to be made, were made early during the pregnancy. We had always co-slept with Alex, and we continued to do so after the twins were born.
We chose to keep Alex in daycare during my mat leave. He did go fewer days during the week, and we dropped him off later and picked him up earlier. Not seeing his beloved friends was an upheaval we were in a financial position to avoid. The results: Alex is six now, loves his brothers, and we have had very few issues with sibling rivalry. More importantly, he wants more siblings.”

Samantha
Calgary, AB

Diaper duty

“I had change supplies for both kids upstairs, downstairs and in the basement so that I wouldn’t have to leave one kid to change the other.”

Laura Bickle
Toronto, ON

Playtime

“It’s easy to include your baby in games with you and your older child. Everything from hide-and-seek — baby pretty much always gives away your hiding spot, much to big brother’s delight — to playing with stuffed animals, cars, etc., can work.
My kids all loved listening to stories on tape. In addition to purchasing cassettes, I made tapes for them of their favourite stories. I found this to be a great alternative to TV, which we avoid, whenever I needed to keep the older child occupied while I dealt with baby. This was a true lifesaver.”

Lisa
Toronto, ON

“I used to put my four-year-old son in the playpen to play with his Lego, or other small toys while his baby sister was crawling around free on the floor. I did have not to worry about her choking or ruining stuff.”

Leah
Chilliwack, BC

Room exchange

“My son and daughter had to share a room in our small two-bedroom house when they were little so I switched bedrooms with them and gave them the bigger master bedroom (much to my husband’s chagrin). It gave them so much more room to play!”

Leah
Chilliwack, BC

Tiny travellers

“In the early months, I found the easiest way to get around was to put the baby in the carrier and the toddler in the stroller: so much easier to navigate than a double stroller. This is key because getting the older one out and burning some energy (at the park, play group, etc.) — makes everyone happier!”

Laura Bickle
Toronto, ON

The safety zone

“I always had the pack-and-play setup in the living room: If my two-year-old hurt herself or was having a tantrum, I had a safe place nearby to put the baby.”

Laura Bickle
Toronto, ON

Sibling similarities

“I talked to my older son, Alex, about when he was a baby, sharing funny stories about his diaper changes and strangers making goo-goo-ga-ga faces at him on the train. I explained that this is a baby phenomenon, and I tried to help him understand that the “special treatment” that he sees his brothers getting is due to their age and development, not due to a difference in love from his parents.
His brothers Nikolas and Erik are three now, and I still find myself explaining to Alex how he was at this age, that his brothers’ mood swings are similar to the mood swings he had. We shared a giggle about how one of the twins had a particularly bad temper tantrum one time, but this tantrum is nothing compared to what an enraged four-year-old Alex could dole out.”

Samantha
Calgary, AB

Mommy’s little helper

“I worried about overwhelming my first child because twins take so much energy and effort and the world is extra fascinated by them. But really, it is simply a more extreme version of the second child scenario.
I knew was going to be spending a lot of time pinned down by babies, and I wouldn’t be able to pick up Alex and carry him as much. So while I was pregnant, I started getting him to bring stuff to me. If I were sitting on the couch, I would get him to fetch me the book he wanted me to read or the book he was colouring. When the babies were born, this continued.
I involved my son with the twins from the get-go. He was my “champion door opener” and “baby soother.” I made sure to give him special status for his age, and to comment when he went above and beyond his duties, like the time when he was barely three years old, and the babies were fussing in their car seats by the front door, and I went to soothe them and found Alex lugging a book over to “read” to them. He loved being read to and he thought that they would too. Sure enough, as always, they were mesmerized by his every word, and he did a better job of soothing them than I would have.”

Samantha
Calgary, AB

Bonding

“Do something special with your older child during baby’s nap. Forget cleaning up or doing laundry. My three-year-old and I would sip hot chocolate while sitting on the front porch in the cool fall air then, we’d play a quick game of basketball. It was simple and fun.”

Lisa
Toronto, ON

Sleep solution

“Bronwyn, our first, didn’t sleep through the night until she was three-and-a-half years old. Isobel came along and was an even worse sleeper. We learned our lesson the first time, that trying to cope with sleep problems on your own can be detrimental to your health and relationship. So we hired The Sleep Doula to help with Isobel; best money ever spent!”

Sandra E. Martin
Executive Editor

Date night

“Don’t feel guilty about getting a babysitter once a week so you can go out with your mate. Two kids is serious business and they can engulf your relationship pretty quickly. In 20 years, your kids will probably appreciate parents who are still together more than they’ll appreciate a mom who was there every single second but was burnt out for 90 percent of it.”

Dana Dougherty Reinke
Toronto, ON